A Priceless Night at Our Local Rodeo

August 3, 2017

At the beginning of the summer, I shared an extensive list of things to do in and around the Charlotte and Lake Norman area.  If you missed it, you can click here, subscribe within that page and it will be sent to you!  One of the things to do is listed on page 13 of 13…the rodeo at Stegall’s Arena.  It takes place every Sunday night 7-9 p.m. from April until Labor Day.

Two hours of small town rodeo goodness.

Walking into the rodeo

Sunday, I saddled up with my brood and a good friend and two of her not so little littles and we mosied over to Concord (or the countryside of Concord) and had an absolutely fantastic time.  Our hubs, who tend to work too much, will join us next time because we will go back.  My LOML was halfway around the world in Hong Kong and hers was busy with their businesses.

When we pulled up, I immediately fell in love with the ambience all around.

Little Red Barn - Rodeo

But my gaze, which had landed on the cute barn and big trucks in front was broken when a voice called to me from the back of the van,

“Mommy?  Where are my shoes?” 

Well, I am a mother and within my job description I am responsible for many, many, many things, but “donning shoes/ensuring shoes are on/auditing shoes of eight year old” is not in my job requirements within the eight year old child oversight section.  For my five year old daughter, who was given flower girl shoes from a shoe store that was closing, which she tries to wear everywhere with everything – shoe oversight and approvals are still listed.

So, my friend and I plotted to conceal him amongst the seven of us and sauntered casually towards a barn through which we had to pass to gain entry to rodeo mecca.

Friends, a rodeo is really a no shoes no problem kind of place.  I’m not sure about the no shirt part, but there was at least one child there with no shoes (ahem) and it didn’t seem to be a terrible problem.  I recommend cowboy boots though.  If not, Chuck Taylors will do.  Flip flopped feet may as well be bare.

Shoe Assortment at the Rodeo

I had to restrain myself from shivering from the heebie jeebies as I thought of the dung remnants that likely lingered within the fine gravel and the soft dirt of the arena.  Two days later, my barefoot boy developed a fever and a headache.  While I never spied a single piece, pile or particle of poop I immediately googled “bacterial meningitis” to see if his symptoms matched while simultaneously reviewing if he could have contracted it from walking barefoot.

There is not even a remote correlation.

I’m not crazy, I just have a creative and wandering mind. 😉

So, we spent a full two hours soaking in tons of rodeo fun.  The kids were enchanted and enamored with absolutely everything and never lost their laser focus on the activities in the arena.

And, it doesn’t get much cuter than a little cowboy.  Chaps and all.

Little Cowboy - Rodeo

There was bull riding of course.

Bull Riding at the Rodeo

Falling off - Rodeo

Free Bull - Rodeo

There was mutton busting……also known as a little boy or girl riding a sheep, who does not want the little child riding him, who is bolting across the arena trying to rid hisself of the child who is holding onto the sheep for dear life.

Mutton Busting Rodeo

My oldest wants to do it next time.  I don’t think I have it in me to invest in chaps, boots, etc. for a whim.  Plus, mutton busting is a gateway sport to actual real-deal bull riding and that’s not on my approved occupation list for my kids.  Although, I would ride a bull in a heart beat.  My friend, on the other hand, said she wouldn’t for a million dollars.  Doesn’t it look fun?

Bucked off at the rodeo

On second thought, maybe I will just Photoshop myself into this picture.

Bucking Bull at the Rodeo

Then there was the shovel race, where a group of three navigate the barrels dragging one member on a big shovel in a race to see who finishes first.  A robust little boy approached my daughter and tried to recruit her to be their group’s shovel rider.  He put on a hard sell telling her:  She didn’t. Have to do. A. Thing.  All she had to do was sit and hold on tight.  He tried to close his sale by adding at the end, “If we win I’ll give you five dollars.”

I was ready to sign as her agent and start negotiating for a bigger piece of the pot.

My daughter can be wooed by money, but she wasn’t convinced.  My friend and I tried to encourage her.  “It sounds like fun!”  “FIVE dollars!!” we cajoled.

She refused.  She didn’t want to ruin her dress.

Friends, it may have been her first trip to the rodeo, but she is wise and she is smart.

Shovel Race at the Rodeo

Shovel Race - Rodeo

And if all of that wasn’t enough fun, they also organized a candy stampede where they lined up all of the kids on one end of the arena and dumped the candy out on the other end.  The kids raced to the other end, diving onto and collecting candy.

Then, there was the activity with the bull and the kids.  My friend and I didn’t hear the run down, but when we saw all of the other children slipping between the fence rails, we excitedly told ours to do the same.  “Oh!  It’s another game ya’ll!” we exclaimed.


Then they let out a juvenile bull with a ribbon tied to it.  Whoever got the ribbon, won the prize.  That is, if they weren’t maimed by the stampeding children or the bull first.  Parent fail. 😉

Bull chase at the rodeo

Bull chase Rodeo

And, like all good things, the evening came to the end when the last bull-rider was thrown into the dirt.  Once again, children flooded the arena and proceeded to pretend to charge other children, as if they had been transformed into a bull by all they had taken in that evening.  Our children were no different and some climbed into the pens while others dramatically pulled the gates open to release them.

Rodeo Bull Kids

And when we got home I washed everyone’s feet and then gave them full-on baths, where I did my best to scrub the bacterial meningitis dirt off of their feet once more. 😉

Going to a rodeo is a must wherever you are, but if you are close to me head over to Stegall’s Arena!  It’s chocked full of good, clean (but filthy) fun!  Tell them I sent you!  Although, they won’t know who you are talking about because we slipped in and out like any other rodeo-goer. 🙂

XO & Journey on, Melissa

The History of the Rodeo

The term ‘rodeo’ comes from the Spanish word rodear and means “to surround” or “go around.”

Born from Spanish influence and function, the modern rodeo has evolved greatly from its origins.

The blend of cattle wrangling and bullfighting dates back to the sixteenth-century conquistadors.  Bull riding originated with Mexican contests where a horse rider would approach a steer from behind, grab its tail and then twist it to the ground.  Wrestling of the bulls themselves was part of ancient traditions in the Mediterranean.

Steer wrestling in America was born from one cowboy, Bill Pickett, who would jump from his horse onto a steer’s back and bite the bull’s upper lip then throw it to the ground by grabbing its horns.  His unique method landed him a contract with a famous ranch in Oklahoma and its traveling exhibitions.

After the Texas Revolution and the U.S. Mexican War the rodeo saw more evolution as Anglo cowboys learned the specific skills, attire and vocabulary of the Mexican cowboys or vaqueros.  Contests then began where ranches battled other ranches in events such as bronco riding, bull riding and roping contests.  William F. Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, created the first major rodeo in Nebraska in 1882.  He then organized a tour for his Wild West show, which built the foundation for the professional rodeo.

Since that time, many world events had their fair impact upon the event.

The rodeo barely survived World War I, but thanks to one entrepreneur, Tex Austin, who created the Madison Square Garden Rodeo it lived.  Subsequent leaders of the event began producing rodeos at other venues in the eastern United States.  The indoor nature of the events changed the rodeo, eliminating events that couldn’t fit within the confines of an indoor space and also reduced the duration from the full day to several hours.

The rodeo survived the Great Depression and after the war cowboys and cowgirls were able to earn a lucrative living.  An average cowboy is said to have earned higher wages than teachers and dentists.

Leaders of rodeos came and went and associations were formed to help regulate the sport and the events.

In 1992 a group of 20 cowboys formed the Professional Bull Riders Inc. (PBR), which took one of the most-famous events in the rodeo to a stand-alone sport.  Today, the Built Ford Tough series is in cities across the country and attracts more than 100 million viewers on televised events.

And, while the Madison Square garden rodeo has lost some of its early luster, top rodeo performers continue to earn significant prize money.  The total purse within the rodeos regulated by the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) organization is upwards of $5 million.

But, despite all of this incredible history, fun and potential prize money, I will heed Willie Nelson’s advice,

“Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” 

Instead, I will take my babies to watch the cowboys and cowgirls at my local rodeo!


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